MANCHESTER — After touring a Manchester manufacturing plant on Wednesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds praised a partnership between industries and education to help local manufacturers meet their production needs.
Workforce readiness is one of the biggest barriers the state faces in growing the Iowa economy, Reynolds said after visiting Henderson Products Inc. as part of her “Building a Better Iowa Workforce” tour.
“It’s so crucial (because) there is such a need for middle-skill jobs, especially welders,” Reynolds said. “This is exactly what we need to do if we are going to keep young people in our state and rural Iowa.”
Henderson, XL Specialty Trailers and Paladin Attachments, all in Manchester, have teamed with West Delaware High School and Northeast Iowa Community College to teach welding. About 33 percent of Henderson’s 330 employees are welders, according to Scott Meyers, production scheduler and manager. Thirty-three of those welders came out of the West Delaware program that prepares them to start work at $17 or more an hour.
Henderson, which makes dump bodies, snowplows, sand and salt spreaders, anti-ice systems and combination bodies for heavy-duty trucks, has markets around the country and in China.
Reynolds also talked about the need for internships to make students aware of the opportunities in their communities “because I think that’s a great way to build relationships and keep our young people here in our communities.”
“I come from rural Iowa, so I think that is important that our rural communities are growing and seeing success, as well as some of the more urban communities,” Reynolds said. “If Iowa is truly going to be successful we have to see growth in every single corner of this state. It can’t just happen in pockets.”
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If Iowa is going to successfully compete on a national and global scale “we want to make sure we have a pipeline of talent. If we don’t have employees, we can’t build and we can’t meet the customers’ needs,” the governor added.
Ensuring that talent pipeline will be the goal of Future Ready Iowa, a program Reynolds plans to launch next year. The goal is to make sure that 70 percent of Iowans in the workforce have education or training beyond high school “so they can have a great career, great quality of life and, most important, we want that to be right here in Iowa.
“It’s one of our top priorities and it has to be,” she said, adding the state is tripling funding for apprenticeships.
Henderson Products was started in Cedar Rapids in 1946 by Ollie Henderson. It made agricultural attachments and spreading equipment. He moved the company to Manchester in 1958.
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